-1Chapter Nine: A Good Slytherin?
The next day came early, indeed, as Mrs. Weasley woke them up not too long after the sun came up. The trip back to the Burrow was postponed, as it was necessary to remain in London to settle the legal matters brought up by Sirius' will. After a quick breakfast of toast and jam, they were off.
The changing of custody of Harry from Sirius to the Weasleys was the easy part. Arthur was able to get the paperwork to pass through rather quickly, as there was no one there to protest the changes. Harry's court appointed advocate could think of no one more qualified to watch over Harry than the current Minister of Magic. The changes were approved by both Muggle and Magical Ministries.
The Advocate was a bit worried about Harry remaining in Vernon and Petunia's custody when out of school, but letters from Albus Dumbledore and Lord Thunder helped to settle the matter. The Advocate was far from pleased, and couldn't understood the reasoning behind it.
"Lord Thunder is a close relative to Harry as well," the Advocate said to Arthur, "surely, Harry would remain safe with him, would he not?"
"I wish it was that simple," began Arthur, "but as you can see, this is a rather…complicated…situation. As this affidavit plainly states…"
"Ah. Indeed," sighed the Advocate, "Protection of both the minor and his non-magical family. You understand why I ask about this, do you not? I am charged with seeing to Mr. Potter's welfare, and protecting his interests. I have looked into the Dursleys, and they are far from ideal."
"I understand, believe me," replied Arthur, "It pains us to see Harry with them, but it is for only one month a year. If we could watch him all year, we would." The Advocate just nodded his head, before stamping his approval on the application.
"Well, Harry, welcome to the family!" beamed Arthur as he walked from the office and met up with the rest of the clan.
"Thanks!" exclaimed Harry, as he was smothered in hugs by all the ladies. Harry felt happier now than he had in a long time. Ginny was the last to let go of him as the group was gathered up to head for their next appointment.
The hard part came when it was time to transfer assets to the various parties. The goblins of Gringott's Wizarding Bank were difficult to deal with on ordinary occasions, but the transfer of such large monetary assets were enough to set them all aflame. Mr. Weasley made sure to bring a representative of the Ministry who was fluent in Gobbledygook to make sure the transactions went as smoothly as possible.
After many hours of arguing, shouts, threats, fists thumping tables, and sparklers being shot around the room, the goblins were satisfied that the monies were being transferred between accounts, and not being removed from the bank proper. It was a letter from a certain Knight, one that had arrived late, that helped to settle the matter. For some strange reason, even goblins listened to Knights.
The whole crew arrived back to Number 12 Grimmauld Place late in the afternoon, thoroughly exhausted. It was strange, thought Harry, that the one constant between the Muggle and Magical worlds was bureaucracy. The Muggle paper pushers didn't even blink at the thought of a hidden magical world, but Heaven save you if you didn't have all the proper paperwork filled out!
As they walked in, Harry was in for a bit of a shock. Several individuals, all dressed in black robes sporting the same bird crest as Sir Vladimir, were working furiously about the mansion. It seemed a bit odd to have all these strangers walking about the place, and turned to give Mrs. Weasley a quizzical look.
"Don't worry, dear," Mrs. Weasley said, trying to abate his obvious confusion, "They're just a clean up crew from The Knights Academy."
"Clean up crew?" Harry asked, still a bit puzzled.
"Indeed, Harry," replied Sir Vladimir as he came around the corner, cleaning a particularly nasty bit of goo from his sword before re-sheathing it. "as Mrs. Weasley can attest, this place had some rather bad infestations: boggarts, doxies, and a few other…unpleasant…things. Until the infestations are dealt with, this place will not be fit for you, or your future family, to live within."
"Oh, okay," replied Harry, still finding it a little hard to believe that this huge house was now his. He blushed a bit, though, when the Knight mentioned 'future family'. He wondered if Ginny would be happy there, then quickly pushed the thought from his mind. Harry glanced at Ginny for just the briefest of seconds, but Ginny saw him and blushed mightily.
After an early dinner, and then saying a few quick farewells, they all piled back into the waiting Ministry car and made their way back to the Burrows. Lying in front of the house, just to the side of the front door, was a large fuzzy brown lump.
"Errol," sighed Mrs. Weasley as she walked up and picked the fuzzy lump up by the pair of legs sticking up in the air.
"Is he dead?" asked Ginny as she came up and examined the limp owl.
"No, only stunned," her mother replied as she gently shook the owl, causing it to slowly rouse.
"That ruddy thing is useless," grumbled Ron as he bent down to pick up the bundle of envelopes that had dropped from Errol's leg, "more so than Pig!"
"I'll say this for Errol, when he makes an entrance, he really makes an entrance," Harry said as he glanced around, following the trail of feathers from the wall of the house, back toward a large tree branch, and then over to the side of the barn. Poor Errol had obviously had a bad night.
"Oy!" yelled Ron as he looked up from the bundle of letters, his skin going pale.
"What's wrong?" asked Hermione, concern clear in her voice.
"These! Th-they're here!" stammered Ron, his hands shaking violently. Hermione and Harry rushed to his side.
"What?" Harry asked in alarm.
"Our O.W.L.'s! Our O.W.L.'s have arrived!" exclaimed Ron, his face pale and drawn.
"Well, it's about time!" huffed Hermione as she reached over and snatched them from a stunned Ron, "Professor McGonagall said they should have been here by mid-July!"
"It's all fine for you, Hermione," stammered Ron, snatching the packet back, digging for his results, "you probably scored an 'O' in every subject!"
"Don't be silly, Ron," said Hermione as she retrieved the packet back after Ron located his results.
Ron was very correct, for Hermione received an O.W.L. in every subject, eleven in all, and each and every one of them at the 'Outstanding' level. Harry and Ron both scored O.W.L.'s in every subject as well, with over half at the 'Outstanding' level. All three scored the top mark in Defense Against the Dark Arts, much to Mrs. Weasley's great pleasure.
"Well done, well done indeed! I am so proud of you lot, scoring as well as you did, with all the unpleasantness of last year!" Mrs. Weasley gushed happily as she busied herself about the kitchen, getting everything ready for the evening meal. Harry, Ron and Hermione were extremely pleased with themselves, but Harry did question a few of the results.
"Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with my grades, but I am a tad confused. I'm sure that my History of Magic and Astronomy scores are well above what they should have been." confessed Harry as he helped set the table. Ron gave him a punch in the arm.
"Listen to the man, griping because he got a good score! Some people are never happy…Ow!!" he cried as a large wooden spoon ricocheted of the back of his head. Ginny stood behind him, looking fierce, with her hands on her hips.
"Leave him alone, Ron!" she whispered in a deadly voice, between gritted teeth.
"Ginny Weasley!" shouted her mother rather sternly, "Don't throw things at your brother! You may break something!"
"Gee, your concern is touching," sulked Ron as he took his place at the table, just as his mother whacked him in the head with another spoon, "Cripes! What did you do that for?!"
"Don't talk that way to me, young man," scolded his mother, as she placed the food on the table, calling everyone else to dinner, "Harry, I think they took into consideration everything that happened in the end of the year, and graded accordingly. Sometimes, the right things do happen, and this is one of those times." Harry just nodded his head, as everyone began to tuck in.
The night prior to their return to Hogwarts, the Burrow was all a bustle as everyone scattered to gather their school supplies. Ron and Ginny's new brooms were parked next to Harry's Firebolt in the front room, next to the door, ready to grab on the way out. Harry made sure to pack his crystal globe from Sirius within the folds of his new Quidditch robe.
"When do you think we'll start the D.A. meetings again?" asked Ron as he placed his prefect's badge in his trunk and sat on the lid to force it closed.
"I dunno," Harry replied as he dug his Wand Care Kit out from under the bed, scaring off several live dust bunnies in the process, "I guess as soon as we get our class schedules. We'll pass the message along to everyone we can find on the train, telling them to prepare for a meeting and to spread the word."
"Can't believe that Sir Vladimir is our new teacher," grunted Ron as he finally closed the latch to his trunk and took several careful steps back, as if afraid the trunk would explode and spill it's contents everywhere. "From what Hermione keeps shoving down our throats, these guys practically invented Dark Arts defense!"
"So, did you see how Moody actually seemed to defer to him? Wonder what that was all about?" mused Harry as he looked about to see if he missed anything. "Are you going to leave that here?"
"Huh? What?" asked Ron as he looked to where Harry was pointing, "Oh no!" Ron had forgotten to pack his Chudley Cannons robe, the prized possession that Sirius had left him.
"There is no way you're going to get it into that trunk," stated Harry. Ron had a look of absolute desperation about him.
"Uh, Harry," began Ron, with a bit of a sad look on his face, "You wouldn't be able to…?"
"Sure, Ron," Harry answered, "go ahead! I've got lots of room!"
"Thanks, Harry!" beamed Ron as he carefully removed his prized robe from it's place of honor and ever so gently folded it and placed it in Harry's trunk.
"Anyway, I hadn't had a chance to tell you yet," continued Ron as he sat on the edge of his bed, looking around to see if he had missed anything else, "About Moody, Dad says he actually attended the Knight's Academy after his Auror training, achieving the rank of Leftenant, he did. That's what helped to make him one of the best Aurors the Ministry ever had, said Dad."
"Wow!" exclaimed Harry, amazed in the extreme, "I didn't know wizards could attend the Knights Academy! That would be fantastic!"
"It's bloody rare," Ron stated, "only Aurors who show vast talent are even invited to attend. Moody is the only one to make it passed the rank of Sergeant."
"I'll be lucky to make Auror," mumbled Harry, sitting dejectedly on his bed, "the only thing I'm good at is Quidditch."
"Harry," said Ron, sitting there looking somewhat aghast, "are you mental? I wouldn't put it passed you to surpass Moody!" Harry grinned at his friends assessment of his abilities, as he and Ron finished their packing and made ready to turn in for the night. Harry was ready to return home, and soon fell asleep, as visions of a grand castle filled the recesses of his tired mind.
The next morning, two Ministry cars arrived to take them all back to London. Remus Lupin was driving the lead car, and waved to everyone as he got out to help them load their things. Mr. Weasley was already at the Ministry due to a crisis that arose earlier in the morning, so it was up to Lupin and Mrs. Weasley to see the teenagers off.
The trip to London was uneventful, with the exception of Ron. He had been practicing sleight of hand tricks Fred and George had taught him with his pack of Exploding Snap cards, when all the cards in his hand went up in flames ("Ouch!" he cried ,as the others laughed) singeing his fingers quite nicely.
For reasons unknown, King's Cross station was busier than normal, so they took extreme care entering the gate to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. Lupin kept lookout as first Ginny and Hermione, then Ron and Harry, entered through the magic arch. Lupin and Mrs. Weasley soon followed.
All the baggage, including all the pets ( much to Crookshanks' annoyance, he hated traveling in a cage) were packed in the baggage car, as Mrs. Weasley gave them all a big good-bye hug ("Ooof!" grunted Ron). Lupin gave Harry and Ron a hearty handshake as he spoke quietly to both.
"Don't forget what Sir Vladimir told you, Harry," Lupin said softly, "assemble the D.A. as soon as possible, and keep an eye out for anything unusual."
"Like what?" asked Ron, looking about rather conspicuously.
"Boys, listen closely. There have already been several attacks against Muggles, and Muggle-borns. Voldemort is getting bolder, I wouldn't put it passed him to try an attack of some sort at Hogwarts."
"How?" responded Harry, "There's no way Riddle can get into Hogwarts, not with Dumbledore and Sir Vladimir there."
"True," replied Lupin, "but he does have sympathizers there, especially the children of Death Eaters."
"Malfoy," growled Harry. Lupin nodded his head in agreement.
"Don't forget Crabb, Goyle, and few others," added Ron, the hair on the back of neck starting to rise.
"Thanks, Ron, that's all I need," muttered Harry, "guess I'll just have to keep looking over my shoulder all year!"
"That's a good idea, " Lupin said, " but I doubt they'll try anything as overt as an attack on you, Harry. It's too obvious. I'm more concerned about the Muggle-Born students."
"Hermione!" exclaimed Ron, his face going dark.
"Exactly! We know that there is no love lost between Hermione and Malfoy, and she was already attacked once, a few years back, as you know. You boys keep an eye on her."
"You can count on it," replied Harry as he and Ron bid Lupin goodbye and boarded the train. Hermione and Ginny soon joined them as they located an empty compartment and settled in.
It wasn't long after the Hogwarts Express pulled out of King's Cross that Ron and Hermione left to join the other prefects at the front of the train, leaving Ginny and Harry alone with each other for the first time in several days. She got up and sat next to Harry and snuggled up next to him. In a gesture that was both automatic and natural, Harry put his arm around her and pulled her close. They both sat there contently before Ginny stirred a bit.
"Harry?" she asked, looking into his green eyes, feeling herself getting lost in their depths.
"I've been meaning to ask you something for quite some time now. I was wondering if you would like…" Ginny was interrupted as the door to their compartment burst open. She held back her anger at being disturbed when she saw Neville Longbottom standing in the doorway, breathing heavily.
"Harry! Ginny!" Neville cried out, "Do you mind if we sit with you? Everyone's telling me that Malfoy is in a foul mood and wants to try out a new spell on me!"
"Sure, Neville," replied Harry as Ginny sat up and patted Harry's hand. "We?"
"Hi, Harry! Hi, Ginny!" called out an airy voice from behind Neville, which turned out to belong to Luna Lovegood, who entered the compartment when Neville stepped out of her way. Neville looked down the corridor nervously, then closed the door and took a seat next to Luna. She scooted closer to Neville once he got settled. Harry's eyebrow shot up imperceptivity at the sight.
"How was your holiday, Neville?" asked Harry as he watched Neville start to calm down somewhat, especially once Luna got closer to him. A little of the color came back to his face. Luna stared at Neville with her usual glazed look, but something was a bit different. Harry couldn't be sure, but he started to think Luna had a thing for Neville. It seemed mutual. Good for him, Harry thought.
"It was horrible," mumbled Neville, his eyes downcast.
"Did you get into trouble over what happened at the Ministry?," Ginny asked. She kind of had a soft place in her heart for Neville. She had agreed to go as his date to the Yule Ball a few years back.
"Well, yes and no," replied Neville, looking a bit confused, "She was very proud of me for helping fight the Death Eaters, but she did give me grief over breaking my Dad's wand!" He started trembling a bit.
"Like I told you, Neville," said Luna as she pulled out a copy of The Quibbler from out of the pocket of her robes and started flipping through it, "That wasn't your fault!"
"I know, but it was Dad's wand," Neville said softly, a slight quiver to his voice, "I feel like I let him down."
"Excuse me?" gasped Ginny, "How can you think that?"
"Look, Neville," said Harry, "You're a student at Hogwarts, and you managed to survive an encounter with a rather nasty squad of Death Eaters. To top it off, you helped keep them from accomplishing their mission! Your parents would both be proud!" Neville beamed at the thought.
"I wonder why Malfoy's trolling around for you anyway? He should be upfront with the rest of the prefects," Ginny added.
"Maybe he has Battling Bogey Disease?" wondered Luna as she rolled her Quibbler into a tube and looked out the window at the passing countryside through it.
"Who knows…Huh?" said Harry, perplexed at Luna's newest revelation, "What's that?"
"Battling Bogey Disease? Well, it's not really a disease, but more of a contagious hex," she said as she continued her scan of the countryside, " It caused your bogies to come alive and start fighting each other. The resulting confusion tends to make the host forget things, like going to the right train car, or that your underwear goes on before your trousers." Harry, Ginny and Neville just stared at her.
"Uh, just a thought, but did your Dad tell you about this disease?" asked Harry very gently. Luna's father ran The Quibbler, which was not known as a bastion of journalistic integrity.
"Yes, he did! Did you read the ten part series he ran on it this summer? It seems the Ministry of Magic has been importing the Giant Invisible Snorklepuss in from Brazil to deal with the renegade Dementors and to use as crowd control in the event the wizarding world gets into a panic over The Dark Lord and the Death Eaters. Battling Bogey Disease seems to have been brought in with them. The Ministry denies this, of course," she said, finally putting her paper back in her lap.
"Of course," Harry agreed, as he gave Neville and Ginny a smile.
"I think it's because Malfoy does what he wants to do, and hang anyone else!" snarled Neville, much to everyone's surprise. No one had ever seen Neville in that type of mood before. He sat back and crossed his arms, a strange crinkling noise coming from within his robes.
"What was that?" asked Ginny, somewhat surprised. Harry wondered if a Giant Invisible Snorklepuss had invaded their compartment.
"Uh…er…that was me," stammered Neville, reddening slightly, "That's another reason my summer wasn't the best. Gram found my collection of gum wrappers. I had a devil of a time keeping her from throwing them all away."
Harry nodded in understanding. The gum wrappers were the only thing Neville ever got from his parents ever since he was a small child. Death Eaters had captured both of his parents and driven them insane using the Cruciatus Curse, so the wrappers were near and dear to him.
They continued to visit for several minutes more when they heard a loud commotion coming from the front of the car. Neville went pale, but much to Harry's surprise, he didn't run. He stood and placed himself between the door and Luna. Neville stood there, shaking, but stood his ground.
A noise, not unlike that of a charging elephant, sounded closer and closer as it traveled down the corridor. Neville balled up his fists and planted himself, readying himself for the worst. Harry, impressed and somewhat alarmed at his friend's actions, began to stand to back Neville. Suddenly, the source of the noise became apparent.
"Harry!" yelled Ron as he grabbed the handle of the door to keep from shooting past, running as fast as he was. "Oh, hi Neville!"
"Ron! What's wrong?!" asked Harry urgently, visions of an injured Hermione flashing through his mind, as Neville went totally white and appeared ready to faint on the spot.
"Wrong? Not a bleeding thing!," replied Ron as he looked strangely at Neville, "Sit down, Neville, before you fall down!"
"He was afraid you were Malfoy," explained Harry as Neville sat back down next to Luna, who looked at him with admiration as she handed him a glass of water, "Been rumors he's been wanting to do Neville a bit of harm."
"Not a bit surprise, I am, " said Ron, trying hard to suppress a smile, "he's in just a bit of a foul mood! You'll never believe it! Malfoy's…"
"Ron!" puffed Hermione as she finally caught up with him, holding a stitch in her side, "Would you please slow down?! You'd have thought you were being chased by Aragog, the way you moved! Are you that eager to gloat?!"
"Well, yeah! You bet I am!" replied Ron as he stepped aside to let her in the compartment, then ran his fingers through his hair, "Do you have any idea how long I've been waiting for something like this? That slimy little git…"
"What?" asked Ginny as she moved closer to Harry, who by this time had sat back down , to let Ron take a seat.
"I've been waiting just as long as you have, Ron," said Hermione reprovingly, "but we are not supposed to delight in the misfortune of other, no matter how much they deserve it!"
"Who?" begged Neville, desperate to hear any bit of good news.
"Aw, come on, Hermione! Let me have my moment! After all, I was burping up slugs for days because of that git, for you! Come down off your high horse and enjoy it! It won't kill you! It couldn't have happened at a better time!" expounded Ron, as Hermione did her best to suppress a grin. She was obviously trying not to enjoy the news, but rather unsuccessfully.
"You're not the only one to suffer at his hands, though, Ron!," Hermione retorted once she had all traces of the almost-grin gone, "I'm the one who ended up with teeth the size of cricket bats…"
"Yeah, but you were the one to give that snotty little dung ball a good shot in the teeth!," replied Ron, grinning as he saw the cracks in her armour beginning to show.
"RON!!" barked four voices, as one. Ron's head snapped around to the others, who looked at him in exasperation.
"Well?" Hermione urged, "are you going to tell them or not?"
"What? Oh! Right!" Ron said, coming once more to life as a grin plastered itself upon his face, "This is great! You're never going to believe it!"
"I think you've already said that bit," quipped Harry, slightly amused at his friend's enthusiasm.
"I'm beginning to think Ron's lost his mind! Get on with it, you prat!" snickered Ginny, who then stuck her tongue out at her brother when he shot her a dark look.
"Okay, okay!" Ron said hurriedly when the others began pulling their wands out, "Draco Malfoy is no longer a prefect for Slytherin House!"
"What?!" exclaimed Harry, Ginny, and Neville as Luna began staring out the window through her magazine once more.
"It's true!" Hermione cut in, "he and Pansy Parkinson both! It seems their actions last year have come back to haunt them!"
"Conduct Unbecoming of a Prefect!" gloated Ron with obvious glee.
"Unbelievable!" said Ginny, beaming.
"That's great!" exclaimed Harry, "That will knock him down a peg or two! The idea that he could hold any sort of power over us drove me crazy last year!"
"Too right!" Neville chimed in, "That must explain his foul mood, and why he's looking for his favorite target!"
"Don't worry, Neville, we won't let anything happen to you," added Ginny reassuringly. The others nodded in agreement.
"He wouldn't dare," replied Hermione, "not with two prefects here, watching over you!"
"Care to make a wager on that, Mudblood?" a malicious voice dripped acidly from the open doorway.
"You had better watch yourself, Malfoy," snarled Ron as he spun around to the door, "You're already in enough trouble as it is!"
"Threatening another student on the train is a serious offense, Draco," Hermione chimed in, "you may not get expelled, but you may just lose Slytherin a rather large number of points when you are reported."
"Are you trying to threaten me, you little filth?" Malfoy spat back. His girlfriend, Pansy Parkinson, was standing there, behind him, for support. His goons may not have been with him, but he would not back down in front of his girl.
"Why don't you just go sulk elsewhere, Malfoy," said Harry dismissively, waving him off, "it's beginning to smell in here! Under the train, perhaps?" Malfoy's ears went red as Pansy gasped at the way Draco had just been spoken to. In a flash, Malfoy had his wand in his hand and pointed it at Neville.
"Accio toad!" shouted Malfoy, as Neville's pet, Trevor, shot out from within Neville's robes, and into Malfoy's waiting hand.
"Trevor!" screamed Neville as he lunged for his toad, but was too late to catch it.
"Give him back, Malfoy!" shouted Harry as he reached for his own wand, then stopped as Malfoy pointed his wand menacingly at the captive amphibian.
"Now, now, Potter, none of your heroics," sneered Malfoy, a nasty look of glee on his face.
"You've done it now, Malfoy," Ron said with authority, "Either give Trevor back to Neville, or I shall report you to your Prefect, and to Professor Dumbledore!"
"Don't even try to threaten me, Weasel-Droppings," Malfoy barked back, "I've done nothing wrong! I merely wish to exterminate this vicious beast that leapt out and tried to attack me! Unless Longbottom wishes to accompany me and…discuss…the situation." Malfoy grinned a most horrid grin.
"You're a filthy liar!" Ginny screeched, "Even Professor Snape will find it impossible to believe you were attacked by a toad!"
"Shut you're mouth, you little tart!" Pansy yelled over Malfoy's shoulder, "We burn trash, not talk to it!"
"You're awfully brave with your girlfriend here," Luna's airy voice called out, as she worked the crossword in her copy of The Quibbler, " but there are six of us, to only two of you. Normally, you probably would be calling for your father to come fix things, or have your pet gorillas intimidate us. Right now, you're probably ready to soil you knickers."
Ron cut loose with a gut wrenching belly laugh, as a snicker escaped everyone else's lips. Harry could have swore he saw steam coming out of Malfoy's ears at Luna's candid observation. Malfoy twisted his face in rage as he glared at each of them in turn. He did not like being the butt of everyone's laughter.
"Right then!" growled Malfoy, "Say goodbye to the toad! I've been wanting to try this one, I'm sure Longbottom will appreciate this one: Cruc…"
"Give the toad back to the Gryffindor," a deep male voice called out from behind Draco and Pansy, causing Malfoy to stiffen slightly before turning around toward the voice.
"Accio Trevor!" commanded Harry, causing the poor, confused toad to fly from Malfoy's grasp and into Harry's hand. Malfoy growled and pointed his wand at Harry.
"Put the wand away. Now, Draco!" another voice, this one female, called out.
"Bugger off!" yelled Malfoy as he aimed at Harry, " Stupe…"
" Expelliarmus!" shouted Harry, a fraction of a second before Malfoy finished his own curse. Malfoy's wand flew forcefully from his hand and hit Pansy Parkinson squarely between her eyes, leaving a big red mark. Tears welled up in her eyes, then started running down her cheeks, as she did her best to stifle a sob. A full force charm like Harry's packs quite a punch.
"You don't know who you're dealing with!" snarled Malfoy as he turned toward the faceless voices once more, "You both shall regret speaking to me like that!" He bent down to pick up his wand, and saw it was missing.
"I doubt that, Draco," the first voice called back, "You may be Snape's fair haired boy, but I refuse to allow a Slytherin to act this way! You make the rest of the House look bad, you and your cronies!"
"You two had best get back to your seats, and come to see us once we get back to Hogwarts," the female voice said "We have your punishments to discuss. You'll get your wand back when we reach Hogwarts." Pansy slid from view as Malfoy turned back to Harry and the rest, giving Ron and Hermione a particularly nasty look.
"This isn't over yet, scum!" he hissed softly, as a hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him from the doorway, pushing him down the hall.
"Yes it is" said the tall young man who ducked into the compartment. Harry was a bit astonished to see him wearing Slytherin robes, to which was pinned a Prefect's badge.
"All right there, Ron?"
"Yeah! Great!, Thanks, Angus!" replied Ron with a smile, "better you deal with Malfoy than us! Snape doesn't care for Hermione or me too much!"
"Snape doesn't care for anyone, too much," laughed Angus, "How's the toad?"
"I'm alright," replied Neville, his eyes downcast.
"I meant Trevor, Neville," said Angus gently, aware of the eyes of the others set upon him.
"Oh!, He's okay, thanks!" replied Neville nervously, as he eyed the new prefect with suspicion.
"Oy! Angus! Budge over!" the female voice behind him called out.
"Huh? Oh! Sorry, Gabby!" Angus replied as he stepped further inside, revealing a stunningly beautiful young lady, with long golden hair that seemed to shine of it's own light.
She and Angus were a study in physical opposites: He was tall, and heavy set, with dark skin and jet black hair pulled back into a severe tail. His face looked slightly hooded and sinister with the exception of his eyes, which shone with an inner light and smiled as much as his lips. She was a bit short, with a body proportioned like a Greek goddess, blonde with fair skin, and with a smile that seemed to light up the entire car. The both of them looked vaguely familiar to Harry.
"Folks, let me introduce the new Prefects of Slytherin House. This tall chap is Angus MacIver, and the lovely lady is Gabrielle O'Connor," announced Ron as he introduced the rest of the group to the Slytherins.
"Are you both sixth years?" asked Neville, still just a bit cautious, "You really don't look too familiar."
"No, actually, we're seventh years," replied Gabby, "we watched you get sorted your first night, Neville." Her easy going attitude and smile instantly warmed Neville.
"We've never stood out too much, well, I haven't " Angus added, as he grinned at Gabby "we were normally in our common room or in the library studying, most of the time."
"Trust me, we never ran with Malfoy's crowd, " Gabby said with a smile that melted Neville's heart. Luna shot her a worried look. "Don't worry, Neville, he won't be bothering you for the rest of the trip."
After visiting for a bit longer, Angus and Gabby excused themselves, but reminded Hermione and Ron that they needed to patrol the train once more before they arrived at Hogwarts.
"Wow! They were actually nice," Ginny said with wonder as Hermione and Ron got up to leave.
"Even with Malfoy screaming all sorts of vile threats at them, they never lost their composure," Ron added.
"When did Malfoy do that? It wasn't just now," asked Ginny, an eager look of anticipation on her face.
"This morning, right after we got on the way," Hermione replied, trying to keep a smirk off her face, "All the prefects went to their car, and we were all a tad surprised to see Angus and Gabby sitting there."
"After introductions and such, we all sat around and started discussing the coming school term," Ron said, continuing the story, "when that prat…er…I mean Malfoy, walked in, fashionably late, and acting as if he owned the place."
"He wasn't happy to see Angus and Gabby there," Hermione added, "and he tried to dismiss them, then he saw their badges." Hermione was unable to suppress her grin.
"I thought he going to have a stroke, Malfoy, when Angus handed him the letter demoting he and Pansy. Turned redder than my hair, Malfoy did!" laughed Ron at the memory, tears of joy streaming down his face. It was obviously a moment in time he would cherish his entire life. Harry and the others laughed at this.
"To top it off, Angus was made Head Boy, the first time a Slytherin has been in ages!" Hermione said, "This seemed to make Malfoy even more upset!" Harry was truly impressed now, Professor Dumbledore would not have made Angus Head Boy if his character was dodgy. This spoke well of him indeed.
They all stayed together after Ron and Hermione departed for the rest of the trip to Hogwarts. Harry bought out the Snack Trolley when it came around, so they sat back, relaxed, laughed and celebrated the demise of a hated foe as they consumed massive quantities of Chocolate Frogs, Cauldron Cakes, and various other treats. Harry got the distinct impression that Luna was watching Neville with a dreamier look than normal, confirming what he was thinking earlier of how Luna felt about Neville. Of course, she may have only been impressed with the way Neville stood between her and Malfoy earlier in the trip, when he acted as a human shield of sorts. Harry hoped it was the former and not the latter.
It's about time Neville stood up to Malfoy, Harry thought, even if it was under the guise of standing up for someone else. Soon, the excitement wore off and drowsiness set in. Neville and Luna looked cute together, leaning up against one another, napping the trip away. Looking down, Harry saw Luna had wrapped her hand around Neville's. Harry smiled, then felt a slight weight against his arm, Ginny had fallen asleep against him. Filled with warmth, Harry put his arm around Ginny and drifted off into a very pleasant sleep.